UBS to launch digital wealth management platform in Britain

The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen on a building in Zurich, Switzerland December 19, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Buholzer/File Photo

ZURICH (Reuters) - UBS said on Monday it was launching a new digital platform to provide online advice for wealth management clients in Britain.

The Swiss bank will introduce the SmartWealth product next month, with a full roll-out planned for 2017. The platform, which provides regulated and real-time advice online, is aimed at customers with a minimum of 15,000 pounds ($19,000) to invest.

“UBS SmartWealth is a strategically important move for UBS,” said Dirk Klee, chief operating officer of UBS Wealth Management. “It enables us to bring our advice and expertise to a much wider audience, at first in the UK, but in time to other geographies too.”

The launch marks a major step by UBS, the world’s biggest private bank, into digital wealth management.

Sometimes called “robo advisers”, online services such as Wealthfront in the United Sates ask customers questions about who they are and what they are saving for, just like conventional advisers, but then use an algorithm to devise an investment strategy.

It is in stark contrast to traditional private banking for millionaires and billionaires, which has often relied on a personal relationship between a client and their banker.

A digital platform could give UBS the scale to bank for the so-called mass affluent - clients with tens of thousands in assets - who are typically higher margin than ultra-high and high-net worth individuals.

UBS Wealth Management President Juerg Zeltner told Reuters in June that UBS was working on a new digital platform which it hoped to launch later this year or at the start of 2017.

Reporting by John Revill, additional reporting by Joshua Franklin; Editing by Susan Fenton